Set up Wordpress on Heroku

Posted by Andrew on May 23, 2013

This is pretty much me summarizing and slightly adapting the Readme from the project by Matt Hoofman mhoofman/wordpress-heroku. Here is my fork of the repo just in case.

If you notice some shortened commands like gp instead of git push it is because I have aliased them in my .bash_profile.

WordPress Heroku

This project is a template for installing and running WordPress on Heroku. The repository comes bundled with PostgreSQL for WordPress and WP Read-Only.


Clone the repository from Github

$ git clone git:// wp-appname

With the Heroku gem, create your app

$ cd wp-appname
$ heroku create wp-appname

Add a database to your app

$ heroku addons:add heroku-postgresql:dev

Promote the database (replace COLOR with the color name from the above output)

$ heroku pg:promote HEROKU_POSTGRESQL_COLOR

Create a new branch for any configuration/setup changes needed

$ gcnb production              (git checkout -b production)

Copy the wp-config.php

$ cp wp-config-sample.php wp-config.php

Open the project in your favorite editor. Right now mine is Sublime text which I have symlinked to the word sublime in Terminal

$ sublime .

Update unique keys and salts in wp-config.php on lines 48-55. Wordpress can provide random values here.

define('AUTH_KEY',         'put your unique phrase here');
define('SECURE_AUTH_KEY',  'put your unique phrase here');
define('LOGGED_IN_KEY',    'put your unique phrase here');
define('NONCE_KEY',        'put your unique phrase here');
define('AUTH_SALT',        'put your unique phrase here');
define('SECURE_AUTH_SALT', 'put your unique phrase here');
define('LOGGED_IN_SALT',   'put your unique phrase here');
define('NONCE_SALT',       'put your unique phrase here');

Clear .gitignore and commit wp-config.php

$ >.gitignore
$ git add .
$ git commit -m "Initial WordPress commit"

Now I like to do Email Setup.

Deploy to Heroku

$ gphp            (git push heroku production:master)

After deployment WordPress has a few more steps to setup and thats it!

Media Uploads

CAVEAT: Currently the plugin used to save images to Amazon S3 does not generate thumbnails Github Issue here is an alternative option I have not tried yet:

WP Read-Only plugin is included in the repository allowing the use of S3 for media uploads.

  1. Activate the plugin under 'Plugins', if not already activated.
  2. Input your Amazon S3 credentials in 'Settings'->'WPRO Settings'.

Custom Domains

Heroku allows you to add custom domains to your site.

$ heroku domains:add
$ heroku domains:add

Setup DNS A records for the following ip addresses to point to your domain, or use

In the WordPress Admin Dashboard, go to Settings --> General. Change both urls to match your www url

Email Setup for Mandrill

Browse to wp-includes/pluggable.php then find the line:


Comment it out and add the following:

  // Set to use PHP's mail()
  // $phpmailer->IsMail();

  // Over ride and set to use SMTP. Set enviromental variables.
  $phpmailer->SMTPAuth = true; // enable SMTP authentication
  $phpmailer->Port = 587; //25; // set the SMTP server port

  $phpmailer->Host = ''; // SMTP server
  $phpmailer->Username = $_ENV["MANDRILL_USERNAME"]; // SMTP server username
  $phpmailer->Password = $_ENV["MANDRILL_API_KEY"]; // SMTP server password

  $phpmailer->From = $bloginfo = get_bloginfo( 'admin_email', 'raw' );
  $phpmailer->FromName = $bloginfo = get_bloginfo( 'name', 'raw' );
  $phpmailer->Sender = $bloginfo = get_bloginfo( 'admin_email', 'raw' );
  //$phpmailer->AddReplyTo($bloginfo = get_bloginfo( 'admin_email', 'raw' );, $bloginfo = get_bloginfo( 'name', 'raw' ););

Add your Mandrill info to your heroku config

$ heroku config:add MANDRILL_USERNAME=username MANDRILL_API_KEY=apikey


  • Because a file cannot be written to Heroku's file system, updating and installing plugins or themes should be done locally and then pushed to Heroku.

Setting up a local environment

Mac OS X

  • To run WordPress locally on Mac OS X try MAMP.
  • This template requires Postgres as the local database so install
  • Open psql, from the menubar elephant icon, and run...
CREATE USER wordpress WITH PASSWORD 'wordpress';
GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON DATABASE wordpress to wordpress;
  • Open /Applications/MAMP/Library/bin/envvars and add export DATABASE_URL="postgres://wordpress:wordpress@localhost:5432/wordpress"
  • Start MAMP and open http://localhost/wp-admin/ in a browser.

Updating WordPress

Updating your WordPress version is just a matter of merging the updates into the branch created from the installation.

$ git pull # Get the latest

Using the same branch name from our installation:

$ git checkout production
$ git merge master # Merge latest
$ git push heroku production:master

WordPress needs to update the database. After push, navigate to:

WordPress will prompt for updating the database. After that you'll be good to go.